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Written Response Items

MDTP Written Response Items (WRIs) are designed to elicit student thinking and quantitative reasoning around foundational mathematical topics and concepts.  Each MDTP WRI aligns to MDTP topics on MDTP diagnostic assessments, and many items can be used at a variety of levels of mathematics study. 

WRIs require adequate time to allow students to think and reason deeply about the problem and to clearly explain or justify their thinking.  MDTP recommends for instructors to critically score their student work using the item rubrics and provide useful feedback to your students since feedback and allowing students opportunities to revise their work is essential to the formative learning process.

MDTP also has field-test versions - please see information below to assist MDTP in the field-testing process.

Three components make up each WRI:

  1. The Problem Statement 
  2. The Essence Statement describes the nature of the solutions to the problem
  3. The Rubric provides specific details for scoring student papers.

Suggested Types of Engagement

  • Introducing: Use WRIs when students are first learning the content and are exploring their strategies and developing their skills sets
  • Advancing: Use WRIs when students have spent time in the content and are advancing their knowledge and are incorporating diverse and flexible skill sets
  • Re-engaging: Use WRIs when activating students’ prior knowledge to launch a new concept/skill or when a common misconception has been identified and needs intervention

Strategies for Engagement

  • Introducing: Students solve a problem independently. Monitor students’ progress and choose a few students to present their ways of thinking. Purposely align student presentations to lead into the upcoming lesson, anticipate errors, and deliver content in response to errors. Assess learning of new content, and provide feedback using the WRI specific rubric.
  • Advancing: Students work collaboratively to solve the problem. Through discussion, justification, argument, and debate students agree on one solution and present/submit this one solution. Chart and name novel methods and class-validated methods. Assess student understanding, build on charted methods, and remedy errors or misconceptions.
  • Re-engaging: Activate prior knowledge to assess their current understanding and design lessons to meet students where they are (anticipate and prepare for potential errors). Remedy identified misconceptions by completing only one WRI section and return every few days to distribute the learning over time. Chart students’ responses and keep charts visible for continued reference. Make connections to the current learning.

Supporting Student Mastery

  • All WRIs follow a General Rubric that should be shared with students to communicate the overarching expectations for achieving mastery. Display the General Rubric before students solve a WRI and explain the students’ responses needed to obtain the highest score of 4.
  • Each WRI is supported by a specific rubric that teachers (and students) should use to assess and communicate student mastery. Suggestions for using the specific rubric include: 1) Teachers score student work, return the specific rubric with student work, read each of the rubric components to students, and then allow students time to revise responses as needed and 2) allow students to score their own work using the specific rubric and give them time to revise responses as needed.

Request Access

Request access to MDTP Written Response Items (in released and field-test versions) below, and a MDTP staff member will contact you directly with access (for verified math educators from California schools only).

Open Response Item Order Form


Field-test Data Request

MDTP needs help in receiving data from educators who have administered these assessments.  Teacher feedback helps us to learn about the usefulness of the item and the scoring rubrics to score student papers.  

Please follow the steps below to provide feedback to MDTP after administering and scoring field-test items. 

  1. Hand out the Prompt of the Written Response Item to students and actively monitor the learning environment (do not send field-test prompts home for independent work). 
  2. Provide students enough time to completely respond to the prompt during instructional time. Students should write their names at the top of the prompt and clearly show their work. 
  3. Read the Essence Statement, the General Rubric, and the Specific Rubric for the item before scoring.  
  4. Score the student responses yourself or with another teacher who is participating in the field test using the item’s Specific Rubric and General Rubric.  The field-test data help MDTP to evaluate the Prompt and the Specific Rubric; therefore, it is essential that you use the Specific Rubric to inform your scoring. 
  5. Do not write comments on the papers that you will send to MDTP. You may make comments on the original students’ papers that you return to your students.
  6. Make copies of students’ scored papers to return by mail or scan scored papers to send by email.  
  7. Complete the survey after scoring to provide feedback about the quality and usefulness of the item. 
  8. Contact MDTP to request a postage-paid envelope to send your results or send one class set of scanned scored student papers and email to MDTP at

MDTP thanks you for your willingness to help in the field-testing effort.

Download complete information on Effective and Appropriate Uses of the MDTP Assessment System and Recommendations for Testing and Suggested Use for assessment planning and professional training.